Lou: The Talent Pool

I think that our talent pool must be pretty shallow and the expectations of our coach must be quite low.

First, they pick Agar for Sydney. Now, is this the same player I have been watching in the Chicken Bash? I think that Joe the Cameraman would have a field day with this fellow. And then I look up his Shield bowling numbers for this season which must be why they picked him. Wait on, no, that couldn’t be the reason because his bowling average is 45.

And then I read that the coach is bucking the trend of 22 million Australians by saying that he is happy with the performances of Shane Watson.

One of my customers, who happened to be a wicket keeper in one of the teams I played for as a schoolboy keeps banging on about Haddin and why he shouldn’t be there. He points out all the dropped catches, missed stumpings and run out chance, and no runs since last season. I just say show me a better alternative. There really isn’t one. We were spoilt with Healy and Gilchrist who had Warne and McGrath to create all the chances for them anyway. It is a bit tougher now. But you have to hang on to everything.

And who do we replace Watson with? Where are the obvious replacements? The standard of all of our domestic cricket is so average you would think that a replacement or two would stand out like beacons. Who is scoring hundreds with regularity even against mediocre bowling? No one! And how do you make sense of the Chicken Bash stuff? Those performances are totally meaningless.

When I go to the market every morning and the apples are not up to scratch, I don’t buy them. How can I sell my customers an inferior product?

We have a core of half a dozen good players who are carrying the side and we’ll have to be content with that for a while. Luckily the standard of our opposition is as weak as it is. The Poms last season were very disappointing and India, apart from a couple of good batsmen are very average. When nine, ten and jack are consistently helping to double our totals you have to question their bowlers.

Yet in between those two we get smashed by Pakistan in the UAE when New Zealand more than hold their own against the same opposition in the same venue. I think that the Black Caps are here next season. Will Boult and Southee do a Hadlee on us and will McCullum and Taylor continue their good form. I think that maybe the Kiwis are the dark horses of test cricket.

Last night I watched Jacques Kallis on TV. He is living proof that if you have the perfect “old time’’ technique you can succeed at any form of the game. He is the greatest allrounder to have played the game. His numbers in test match cricket and one day internationals will probably never be beaten. Last night, this thirty nine year old playing a young man’s game of 20/20 made the game look easy. His timing when batting was impeccable and his composure when bowling was just as it should be. When he takes a wicket or has a catch dropped off his bowling there are no histrionics. Not for him is the half lap of the oval high fiving anyone who gets in the way. He proved that if you can bat properly you are still playing against eleven men on a big oval and there are plenty of gaps.

About a dozen years ago my favourite player in the country was Cameron White. I was a very proud Victorian at that time. Here was a new improved version of the great Richie Benaud. He could bat, he could bowl, he could field and he had cricket brains. I figured that all he needed to do was work with his team mate Shane Warne on his bowling and he could become an all time great. But, sadly it wasn’t to be. I think that even the late Terry Jenner tried. It’s very disappointing when you see all that talent and it doesn’t quite come to fruition.

And then about five years ago I spotted my new favourite player, Steven Smith. He had all those same qualities too. Everyone told me I was mad. I said be patient, he will surprise you all. And he has. All he needs to do is work on his front arm with his bowling action. As the great Richie says point your front arm to fine leg in your delivery stride. That was the standard instruction when we learned to play. If you don’t you’re wasting your time. It would be nice if someone could help him there and we might have a good little leggie to complement our bowling stocks.


  1. Agar will prove you wrong in time Lou. He is a rare talent who needs time to develop his bowling. He will be our best spin all rounder since Benaud.
    Agar is learning in a tough school bowling at the WACA. Its a spinner’s graveyard – no grip and turn – only flight and bounce (Yardley’s height, drift and quicker speed made him our best spinner there). The great Warne averaged 36 runs a wicket at the WACA compared to 25 across his career. Finger spinners have done even worse. Mallett had 2 tests there and went for 85 runs a wicket.
    He is not there yet, but he is a better all round bet than Watto for the future. Brilliant field and will bat 7 in a few years time. His bowling is a work in progress but he will be better than Lyon in a few years.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good reminder of how hard it is to bowl spin at the , waca , PB.Wonder if his career would progress further playing in another state ? His batting is good enough technically to bat in the top 6 and bowl a bit if he stays in Perth

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Lou overall I agree with you there are a lack of players knocking the door down re selection wise we had , Hussey , Lehmann , Hodge , Law etc waiting in the wings re batting wise . I was never bullish re Cameron Whites bowling he was a batsman who could bowl . Steve Smith bowling has always had potential but now his batting has progressed and being captain this will be pushed to the background unfortunately
    thanks , Lou

  4. Recently on the radio Ian Chappell was saying that even in the modern era good cricketers should be playing first class cricket by 18 or 19 years of age. That, to him, is a fair indication of talent. But the older blokes trying to keep a contract and stretch the gravy train for another season are keeping them out because ( in Victoria anyway) the emphasis is on winning Shields and other trophies, not on producing Test cricketers. I think he is dead right. There should be a required number of youngsters playing at first class and State level. I think then we would see the young talent. And more importantly, encourage young talent to stay in the game by providing these opportunities.

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